Baptisia tinctoria

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Baptisia tinctoria
Baptisia tinctoria.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Baptisia
Species: B. tinctoria
Binomial name
Baptisia tinctoria
(L.) R.Br. ex Ait.f.

Baptisia tinctoria (common names include yellow false indigo, wild indigo,[1] wild-indigo[2] and horseflyweed[3]) is a herbaceous perennial plant in the family Fabaceae. It is native to eastern North America.


Baptisia tinctoria is found throughout the eastern United States, west to Minnesota, and south to Florida.[4] As it is rare in some parts of its range, it is protected by some state authorities: in Kentucky it is threatened; in Maine it is considered endangered.[5] It prefers dry meadow and open woodland environments.[6]

Line drawing


The multiple bushy stems of Baptisia tinctoria reach 2 to 3 feet tall. The leaves are silver-green; each is divided into three leaflets about ½ inch long. The flowers are yellow and grow in spikes 1½ to 3 inches long.[7]

The leaves are eaten by some lepidopteran caterpillars, for example the Io moth (Automeris io).

On Martha's Vineyard, the species is a tumbleweed: it grows in a globular form, breaks off at the root in the autumn, and tumbles about.[1]


  1. ^ a b C. E. Bessey (1886). "The tumble-weed of the west". Botanical Gazette. University of Chicago Press. 11 (2): 41. doi:10.1086/325904. 
  2. ^ "BSBI List 2007" (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original on 2015-01-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17. 
  3. ^ "Baptisia tinctoria". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 9 January 2016. 
  4. ^ Canby, William. "Notes on Baptisia." Botanical Gazette 4 (1879): 129-132.
  5. ^ USDA, NRCS. 2007. The PLANTS Database (, 31 May 2007). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
  6. ^ "Baptisia tinctoria". Missouri Botanical Garden. (accessed May 24, 2007).
  7. ^ Crockett, James U.; Allen, Oliver (1977). "Wildflower Gardening" (1 ed.). Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books.